We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabrielle/Gabe Rodriguez (she/her) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabrielle/Gabe, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I feel the seed was planted a long time ago, it was just a matter of when. I have had tons of dreams/ideas over the years.The vision that has always remained is the desire to help in the healing of my communities. I started a program at a non-profit last year called La Conextion that co-created sober spaces for the individual and collective healing of Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The community that was cultivated really showed me much more can be done for the healing of these communities. I decided to re-launch La Conextion as an LLC this year to have a bit more autonomy in the work that I do. As La Conextion 2.0 I am offering 1:1 support to sober and sober curious QTIBIPoC as well as speaking engagements and offering consulting to various organizations. The exciting part about being an entrepreneur is that I get to mesh all the pieces that I’ve enjoyed from all the jobs that I’ve had..
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
La Conextion was years in the making from early on in my own sober journey because I quickly recognized the lack of resources for sober and sober curious QTIBIPoC. The process wasn’t easy, but has definitely been worth it. There was a lot of personal growth that had to happen before starting La Conextion and there will continue to be personal growth throughout. I overcame challenges by both finding like-minded folx and engaging in conversation with folx that do not agree with my views of sobriety, healing and harm reduction. The biggest challenge has been shifting from living sober to having sobriety be my livelihood and the boundaries that need to be established. Lessons I’ve learned along the way is that my work won’t resonate with everyone and folx will disagree. I won’t pretend I know everything about healing and sobriety among all QTIBIPoC, which is why it is important to me to be connected to a wide network of QTIBIPoC healers for referrals, partnerships, and collaborations. What I would love the world to know is that sobriety for me is joy-focused, celebratory, resisting intoxication culture, resisting capitalism, decolonizing my mind, body, + spirit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to all of the spaces that are surviving gentrification. For coffee— Whittier Cafe and Federal Coffee. For food— La Calle Taqueria y Carnitas, Los Molinos, Tacos El Paisa, The Real Deal Food Truck. For groceries— all of the bodegas on Bruce Randolph. Check out events by the Rise Westwood Collective and Raíces Brewing Co. Visit the mountains for hiking and undeveloped hot springs. Hang out at Curtis Park, Schafer Park, City Park and Cheesman Park. The most exciting people, places, and things to check out are where there is culture.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This shoutout goes to mi familia, both chosen and blood. All of the folx that believed in me and my experiences as well as those that didn’t. I’m grateful to everyone that has been alongside me both short and long term during my sober journey. Forever grateful for La Conextion’s community of QTIBIPoC that are healing individually and together. Stories from my communities about their experiences as QTIBIPoC across time and space, hidden and out in the open, in books and vocally.
I’m grateful to/for specific folx at the Addiction Technology Transfer Center National Coordinating Office, Youth Seen, Caring for Denver, Colorado Village Collaborative, Colorado Health Foundation, and PCA Colorado for their encouragment and support throughout my time in Colorado.